Is Hillary Clinton Still a Democrat?

Seeing today’s debate in the blogosphere helps point out why I am an independent and not a Democrat. While it is hard to imagine voting for the Republicans since their move to the extreme right, I am unwilling to consider myself a Democrat. The Democrats are preferable to the Republicans, and have far more candidates I would consider voting for. The difference is that, while presumably a Democrat feels obligated to eventually rally around their party’s nominee, I will only vote for a Democrat if I find them to be acceptable. In 1992 I considered Paul Tsongas but would not vote for “Slick Willie,” a man I did not feel had the character to be president. My judgment on that matter was certainly verified. It is even less likely I would vote for Hillary Clinton after seeing how dishonest she has been during the current campaign.

Many bloggers who identify themselves as Democrats are facing a dilemma with regards to Hillary Clinton. Clinton has many of the characteristics which I and other liberal bloggers have opposed in the Republicans. This includes conservative views on social issues, civil liberties issues, and foreign policy, and the adoption of dishonest tactics more generally associated with Republicans such as Karl Rove and Lee Atwater. For myself there is no dilemma here. As an independent the logical course of action would be to refrain from voting for Hillary Clinton since I disagree with her on most issues and I find her to be too dishonest to be acceptable as a president.

Bloggers whose identity includes being a Democrat are faced with a dilemma. They feel that they should vote for the candidate of the Democratic Party, but also are realizing that Clinton does not represent the reasons why they are Democrats. Someone commenting at Daily Kos wrote:

At some point the concept of “Republicans will do X” has turned into a license for Hillary to do all the same things. It’s bizarre, but I don’t really consider her a Dem any more.

Markos promoted the comment to a main post with approval of the statement, leading to protests from partisans such as Big Tent Democrat. His post is centered around the concept of unifying the party. If party unity is the goal, then there is a certain logic in opposing such criticism of a potential nominee under the belief that party members should support the party, regardless of what it comes to represent. For those of us who are concerned with principles first, then this sentiment of not considering Clinton a Democrat makes perfect sense.

While understandable, obviously this statement is technically incorrect. Hillary Clinton is a Democrat, even if she behaves more like a Republican and is on the wrong side of so many issues. Presumably what Kos and the original author are getting at is the problem that, although a Democrat in name, Hillary Clinton does not represent the principles which have led them to consider themselves Democrats. They are realizing that, after criticizing the Bush administration for years, they cannot in good conscience support a Democrat who has many of the same faults as George Bush.

While it would be simpler to declare that Clinton is not a Democrat, in reality they do not have that choice. Liberals will have to decide whether they will ultimately support someone based upon party label, even if her views and conduct are contrary to our principles, or reserve their support for candidates who are deserving of support. As an independent, there is no difficulty in refraining from supporting the nominee of the Democratic Party, but those who identify themselves as Democrats will have a harder decision to make. Fortunately this is a dilemma which we will probaby not have to face, considering how Obama’s lead is growing and Clinton is unlikely to receive the nomination.

The real question for those who stress party unity is how they can tolerate someone like Clinton who practices a Tonya Harding strategy and reduces the chances that Barack Obama will win. Rather than blindly defending the dishonest tactics and flawed policy positions of Hillary Clinton, it would make far more sense to unify around Obama at this point. Not only is Obama the candidate with a far better chance of winning the nomination, he also represents the values which have led many to support the Democratic Party, as well as having the support from many independents whose votes the Democrats would otherwise lose. Allowing Hillary Clinton to proceed with her dirty campaign reduces the chances that a Democrat will win in November, and also increases the chances that we will not have a real choice in the unlikely event that she manages to win the nomination.

Some who are supporting Big Tent Democrat over Kos in this dispute are calling those who oppose Clinton supporters of a small tent. That is just one more item in a long list of absurdities from the Clinton camp. The true small tent is the Clinton tent, limited to only hard core Democrats who care more about the party label than principles. This is the Democratic Party which has been a minority party. It is Obama who represents the true big tent as he is showing he can build a new majority based upon liberal principles which includes both many principled Democrats as well as independents.

Update: Another post worth reading on this controversy is at Booman Tribune. He doesn’t appear to object to Clinton’s policy positions as I do, but expresses similar views with respect to her “starting to resemble a Republican is in her campaign rhetoric and tactics.” He also stresses the foolishness of supporting such efforts from a candidate who will probably lose which damage the probable winner of the Democratic nomination.

Obama Capitalizes On Lessons Of Last Night’s Debate


My post-debate comments centered around the manner in which the debate concentrated on the type of slime being spread on right wing talk radio (and by the Clinton campaign) as opposed to matters of substance. The general response has been predictable. Right wingers and Clinton supporters (which in many ways is redundant) have defended the questions. To them, the subjects discussed last night, and not the real issues, represent what they think a campaign should be about.

Despite some differences on economic issues, Hillary Clinton has essentially adopted the mind set of the “vast right wing conspiracy.” Clinton has become indistinguishable from the Republicans in most matters, with Obama being the only candidate who, as John Kerry has said, seeks to end the practice of Swift Boating as opposed to perfecting it. Obama has become our only hope in this election of having anything other than a third term of George Bush style politics.

Some people, even Obama supporters, initially considered the debate a loss for Obama because he was under attack so frequently and was unwilling to play the game. This assessment of the debate misses the big picture. Those who think that the topics discussed in the debate matter will vote for a conservative such as McCain or Clinton, but most voters are sick and tired of that type of politics. The debate, as have many of Clinton’s dirty attacks, has once again played into Obama’s strengths, allowing him to show how he differs from Clinton/Bush/Rove style politics.

Obama quickly took advantage of the debate while campaigning today (video above):

I will tell you it does not get more fun than these debates. They are inspiring debates. I think last night we set a new record because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people.

It took us 45 minutes — 45 minutes before we heard about health care, 45 minutes before we heard about Iraq, 45 minutes before we heard about jobs, 45 minutes before we heard about gas prices.

Now, I don’t blame Washington for this because that’s just how Washington is. They like stirring up controversies and getting us to play gotcha games and getting us to attack each other. And I’ve got to say Sen. Clinton looked in her element.

She was taking every opportunity to, you know, get a dig in there…. That’s all right, that’s her right, that’s her right to kind of twist the knife a little bit….

Look, I understand though, because that’s the textbook Washington campaign, because that’s the politics that’s been taught to be played, that’s the lesson that she had heard when the Republicans were doing the same things to her back in the 1990s.

This shows once again why Obama has beaten the Clinton machine, and why most Democrats think he is their best shot at winning the White House. Not only has Obama made himself immune to the types of smears used by the right wing (primarily Hillary Clinton at present) but the more they resort to these tactics the more the differences between Obama and the other candidates is highlighted.

ABC and Hillary Clinton Double Team Obama With Slime

Theoretically having a debate on a major network as opposed to cable might mean having a better debate. It certainly did not turn out that way. Looking around the blogosphere there is disagreement as to who won but most agree that the questions were horrible. Tapped writes that the questions were a disgrace. Greg Mitchell calls it a shameful night for the U.S. media. It seemed like every ridiculous bit of slime being spread the last several weeks was discussed, ranging from flag pins to associations with 60’s radicals to Obama’s bitterness statement.

Deciding upon who wins depends largely upon how you see these questions. While Clinton was asked about her Bosnia gaffe, the bulk of the nonsense questions involved Obama. This could be seen as a negative for Obama with him being placed on the defensive. I saw the major difference between the two being that Hillary Clinton tried to use the slime to her benefit. In contrast, Obama clearly would have preferred that such nonsense be kept out of presidential debates, and even defended Clinton on Bosnia.

The debate contained far too little of substance, but it did reveal more about the character of the two candidates. Judging the debate in this manner Clinton failed badly. Once again this debate demonstrated that the choice is a continuation of the same old Bush/Rove/Clinton style dirty politics or a change to politics of substance.

What really matters after debates is the general reaction, not my opinion. On the one hand, public opinion is partially determined by the media, and I fear that the media lacks the ability to recognize how terrible the questions were. Coverage based upon showing Obama on the defensive would not look favorable.

I remain hopeful that the American people are smarter than this and are growing tired of choosing presidents based upon who can be discredited with the most negative slime. If the American voters see it this way, the next president will be either Barack Obama or John McCain. The debate once again made it clear that Hillary Clinton lacks the integrity and character necessary to be taken seriously as a president, and has far more in common with George Bush than any of the other candidates remaining in the race.

Update: If it seemed like the questions were coming from the lunatic right as opposed  to rational journalists, there’s a good reason for this. George Stephanopoulos got his advice regarding the types of questions to ask from Sean Hannity. Of course Hillary Clinton remains on the same page as the far right, as I’ve noted many times in previous posts.